WOW. The standard of climbing at the 2014 Junior Irish Lead
Climbing Championship left many spectators with a look of amazement and
admiration on their faces. The competitors who ranged in age from 11 to 19 represented
some of the very best young climbers from all over the island of Ireland as
well as a very strong contingent of climbers who travelled from Scotland,
England and Wales. The competition which is in its second year as a stand-alone
competition succeeded in drawing 51 climbers across seven separate competition
The route setting team of Rob Napier, Brian Hall and Juan O
Raw, measured the ability of the competitors really well and conceived a host
of fun, absorbing and challenging routes. Each competitor climbs two qualification
routes in the morning. The top ranked climbers from each of the competition
categories then proceed to the final round in the afternoon.
As the climbers made their way through the two qualification
routes the on-form climbers began to distinguish themselves from the crowd. The
qualification climbs were set on the technical overhang of the ‘North-Face’
wall and the energy sapping steepness of the ‘Prow’. The route-setters skills
were evident as at the end of the two qualification routes all the climbers’
skills were well tested and the vast majority of the field was split on points.
When the results for the qualification round were posted and
the finalists revealed there were some delighted and well as some very
disappointed competitors, the margins were so narrow that the slightest slip a
second earlier or later decided who progressed through to the next round and
who had to watch on from the bleachers.
With the qualification routes dispensed with the
route-setters began resetting some of the routes for the final round. The
climbers who qualify for the final round must wait in the isolation room while
this work is taking place on their final route, this really adds to the
suspense for the final. Each group is called from the isolation room and given
six minutes to view the route and to try to figure out how to climb it before
going back into isolation.
The first group of finalists were the climbers in Male Youth
C and Female Youth C. In Male Youth C Sam Bullock from Newcastle showed
tremendous climbing skill and fitness to reach the top of his final route, the
only climber in his category to do so, much to the delight of his parents (and
the route setters). In Female Youth C Cardiff’s Emily Philips and Sheffield’s
Pippa Watkin were set for an epic showdown. Both climbers reached the top of
their two qualifiers. Emily reached the top of the final climb with apparent
ease. If Pippa reached the top it would come down to who climbed the quickest
on the final route. Despite an amazing display of climbing ability Pippa fell
just shy of the top. The gold medal went to Emily.
In Female Youth B Cork’s Sarah Hoare continued her strong
run of form to take second place ahead of a group of strong climbers. It was
however Scottish climber Rebecca Kinghorn who proved herself to be a class
apart from the rest topping her final route and in the process giving one of
the route-setters a lesson in what strong young climbers can hold on to! In
Male B Ballywalter’s Carson Carnduff and Kieran Forrest from North Wales were tied in joint 1st
after the qualifiers. In the final round Carson climbed smoothly and
confidently through the steepest section of the Awesome Walls Dublin prow only
to come unstuck high on the wall. Lowering to the ground he was in poll
position with only Kieran left to climb. Kieran matched the previous high point
and then seemed to hit the turbo button to power to the top of the wall.
In Male Youth A Dominic Burns of Belfast was dominant throughout the competition with
only the final route denying him three ‘tops’. The battle for 2nd
and 3rd place between Sean Hoare, David Hurley and Adam Timmons was
a closer run affair with 2nd going to Sean and 3rd to
David. In Female Youth A Victoria Waterson of Fermanagh found herself the sole competitor
in the group. Despite the lack of any real competition Victoria pushed herself
as hard as she could throughout the day. This sporting spirit really embodies
what these competitions are about. They are not about beating the other climbers,
they are about climbing as hard as you can, or if you are a bit more cynical
they are about trying to beat the route-setters!
The last final round of the day was for the Junior Male
category. The podium places were up for grabs between Belfast’s Eoin Acton,
Dave Cussen from Cork and Dublin climber Ciaran Scanlon. In a very close final
Eoin showed his competition experience and guile to take first from Dave, with
Ciaran taking 3rd place.
In only its second year the Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championship
has already established itself as a key climbing competition for young
climbers. The visiting climbers vowed to be back in 2015 and hopefully we will
see even more of them as well as more climbers from all over Ireland.
The competition could not have been the success it was
without the massive support from all the people who volunteered their time for
the day to belay, judge, operate the jury video cameras, calculate results,
register the climbers and supervise the isolation room. Awesome Walls Dublin has
been fantastic host to this competition since its inception. The continued
support of Great Outdoors through the sponsorship of prizes for the competition
really adds to the value of the day. The rush to the shop after the prize was
evidence enough of the competitors delight in the prizes.
Full results are available at: Results 2014 Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championship